I led a storytelling workshop today with a group of talented, sparky young women from Moss Side in Manchester. We talked about our passions and I spoke about the importance of ‘small stories’ and about how our personal stories, however insignificant they may seem, are powerful and political.
And we had some fun. We did an exercise where everyone came up with a random word and then we each wrote a story using all the words. We had 15 minutes to do this and everyone wrote a story in that time. The learning here was that although we all had the same stimulus, everyone’s story – and everyone’s voice – was completely unique. These are the words we had to work with and this is the little story I wrote.
Crucio, camera, Argentina, enchilada, churros, Domino’s, dog, apple, mental health, hipster, rollercoaster.
Crucio, the hipster dog, was excruciatingly cool. He had one of those old-skool cameras hanging round his neck and his boots were from Argentina. His facial hair was unrivalled in Manchester and as he rode his BMX around the streets of the Northern Quarter, everyone knew him and called out his name.
‘Hey, Cruc! Do you want a taco? Enchilada?’ said the guy in the taco van. Crucio took a couple of churros and a couple of photos and went on his supercool way. He rode past Domino’s and got a couple of free pizzas and the lady on the little market stall on the corner gave him a crisp, red apple.
Crucio was so cool and so popular that nobody thought for a minute to be concerned about his mental health. But Crucio was not well. Inside, he felt he was an island, surrounded by cold, choppy waters, separate from everyone and everything – alone. He took photos everywhere he went just to remind himself that this was just a feeling. And Crucio knew that feelings aren’t real. They just sometimes feel that way. Only the things you can take photos of are real, he told himself. And he click, click, clicked away on his old-skool camera, looking supercool all the way. And the photos let him know that he was known, he was seen, he was fed, he was loved and he was real.
But nothing could prepare Crucio for the rollercoaster ride his life was about to become…